Fight the Good Fight
Theatre Babylon, 720-1942. Through Jan 27.

THE BEST THING about some shows is their program's "Bios" section, clumsy haikus of the ego that combine dull-as-dirt job applications with bad stand-up. Staging eight short plays with eight different directors and a huge revolving cast makes the program for Fight the Good Fight a highly readable zine on the subject of self-image and career aspirations. Mysteries as to motivation and career strategy abound: What do we make of Demone Gore's battery of quotes in lieu of personal information? Who is this "Brad" person whom Mary Ann Boyd mentions? Can everyone truly be as thrilled as they claim?

Clutch onto your program with all of your might; certainly nothing onstage will engage your interest. Every single play in Fight the Good Fight lurches into existence from some primordial soup of cliché. Do we really need to be reminded that a Metro bus offers contrasting personalities? Or see a congress of buffoonish, in-fighting gods bickering over how to control the affairs of man? Is there anything remarkable in declaring that office labor is dehumanizing, or that some old-time movies were melodramatic? Even "Debt," Janet Kenney's potentially interesting take on race and sex as contributors to a crime scene, collapses after a must-see-TV revelation that the criminal was stealing to buy AIDS drugs. High school students completing a composition assignment display more honest imagination than is found in any of these smarmy retreads.

If you're not a program fan, take what you can get from the performances and direction. Anna Constant, in "Cabbie, A Brave Soul," one-ups everyone by inhabiting her part rather than archly performing through it. Andy Jensen's restrained direction of "Debt" focuses on basic shapes and stage placements that help reveal the characters' complete, horrifying interdependencies. But a pair of admirable efforts isn't enough to recommend a night of stomping around and smug overacting in shows not worth struggling though. Fight the good fight: Stay home.